As album concepts go, basing each song off a different piece of literature isn’t the worst idea. This is what ICE NINE KILLS do with Every Trick In The Book. Drawing inspiration from classics such as Dracula and Animal Farm there’s certainly plenty of scope to create some interesting songs and given the theatrical nature of ICE NINE KILLS’ music would seem like a good fit. Sadly the end results just don’t live up to the promise.
It’s not a complete disaster as some songs manage to make good use of their source material. The dual vocal approach of singing and screaming makes sense during Me Myself & Hyde. Both vocalists do a solid job of representing Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and this song ends up being the most successful attempt at recreating the source material within a song. The gothic touches to ICE NINE KILLS also means they feel completely at home adapting horror stories such as Dracula, The Exorcist and Carrie. So whilst the concept works most of the time it’s a shame that most of the songs are just so formulaic.
Fans of any kind of post-hardcore or metalcore band from the Warped Tour scene will have already heard every ICE NINE KILLS do here already. As previously mentioned they use a dual vocalist approach but it often just ends up with a screamed verse before lead vocalist Spencer Charnas takes over for the chorus. Odd flourishes of synths and other more theatrical instrumentals add some variety to the music but most of the time it’s just standard chugging metalcore riffs and breakdowns.
Without a doubt, the worst moments on this album are its ballads. Star Crossed Enemies is based on Romeo and Juliet so it makes sense that it would have a more romantic sound but the lyrics are so cliched that is hard not to cringe from start to finish. However this is nothing compared to the piano ballad Tess-Timony which is easily the lowest point on the album. Again the lyrics are cliched and the whole song just comes across as too cheesy. The lyrics are quite inconsistent throughout the album, the best moments are when they manage to bring the world of the books to life but at other they end up being a bland mess of cliches like in the ballads.
It’s also worth mentioning that there are occasional breaks from some dialogue and whilst these are mostly okay there is one exception. During The People In The Attic (based on The Diary Of Anne Frank) they imitate a German SS officer with an awful fake German accent which turns something that should be unsettling into something cringe inducing.
In the end, the only thing that really stands out on Every Trick In The Book is its concept. Without this, it would probably end up being another entirely forgettable post-hardcore album. Fortunately the concept does lend a few neat ideas to proceedings. It’s not hard to see why ICE NINE KILLS will appeal to fans of bands like PIERCE THE VEIL and CROWN THE EMPIRE but then it’s hard to see how they’ll ever really stand out within that scene. Without the concept the songs just don’t hold up by themselves, if the songs themselves were just more interesting then perhaps this could have been an enjoyable album.
Every Trick In The Book is set for release on October 28th via Fearless Records.
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